This Week on Stage: Hugh Jackman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and more
Given that the ubiquitous Neil Patrick Harris will be plenty busy in a wig and heels as the lead in the upcoming Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it was apparent he would not resume his envied tenure as Tony Awards Host Extraordinaire. But no fretting, as megastar Hugh Jackman (due back on Broadway next season in a new Jez Butterworth play) is picking up the baton for his fourth time as host. And it’s quite a year too, as the star quotient for the 2014 show is sky-high (Denzel Washington, Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zach Braff, and these are just for starters). In other news, word came down that Maggie Gyllenhaal will be the lucky lady to star opposite Ewan McGregor in the newest revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, with both actors making their Broadway debuts despite previous stage work.
And Andrea Martin, comedy fave and recent Tony winner for her literally show-stopping turn in Pippin, is set to delight farce-connoisseurs everywhere as maid Dotty Otley in the play within a play of Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Noises Off next season. You can definitely expect her to net a career-sixth Tony nomination in 2015 if she’s half as uproarious as expected. The week also provides an assembly of new show on both coasts (click on the links below to read the full reviews):
The Correspondent Thomas Jay Ryan, who memorably starred opposite Michael Urie in the terrific Off Broadway play The Temperamentals, returns for another leading role, this time as a sullen widower who enlists the help of a shifty web company rep to commune with his late wife. The results are mixed, per my review, in a play by Ken Urban that “teems with provocative notions”, but ends up “a spooky but curiously unsatisfying mélange of ghost story tropes with some modern, androgynous tweaking, plays like a pervier version of the 1990 film Ghost.” EW grade: C+
Dinner With Friends Donald Margulies won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with his penetrating look at the machinations of two couples over several years, one of which is pursuing a divorce (the material also spawned a 2001 HBO film starring Dennis Quaid and Toni Collette). Melissa Rose Bernardo took a hard look at the new revival, and found it reveals new depths several years after its premiere. “Where your sympathies fall and whose side you take — because, inevitably, you will take sides — will likely depend on your age, your gender, and probably your marital status”, and praises this new production, calling it “wondefully sentimental”. EW grade: B+
The Tribute Artist Master of the campy, TCM-laced melodrama Charles Busch returns with a new vehicle in which he portrays a down-on-his-luck female impersonator who enlists his best pal to help him assume the role of their late friend in order to collect a handsome real estate settlement. “The Tribute Artist will keep his fans chortling while keeping the option open to amuse some new Busch leaguers”, says my review, which features a terrific cast, who are “uniformly game — especially [Julie] Halston, who continues to steal every one of Busch’ plays.” EW grade: B+
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike David Hyde Pierce serves as director to the actors who joined him on stage in the NYC production, Kristine Nielsen and Shalita Grant, in Christopher Durang’s Tony-awarded comedy, now playing on the West Coast, joined by twice-Tony-crowned Christine Ebersole in the role previously played by Sigourney Weaver. “The comedy is light and easy-breezy, whether you’ve spent countless hours analyzing Russian literature — or not.”, says EW’s Laura Hertzfeld, who was just as taken with the Chekhov-flavored madcap comedy as her East Coast colleagues, calling the production “dependably funny”. EW grade: B+